Sunday Nation
Sunday, December 21, 2003


Kibaki inaugurates Aga Khan Academy

President Mwai Kibaki is congratulated by His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, after the former officially opened the Aga Khan Academy at Kizingo in Mombasa yesterday. Photo by Gideon Maundu

President Mwai Kibaki yesterday officially inaugurated the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, the first of a global network of Aga Khan academies to be established in Africa, Middle East and Asia.

The Head of State unveiled a plaque at Kizingo in Mombasa during a ceremony witnessed by His Highness the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.

Among dignitaries present were Prince Rahim Aga Khan, four Kenyan Cabinet ministers, senior officials of the Aga Khan Development Network and the Aga Khan Education Services.

Others were ministers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zanzibar and Tajikistan, and key figures in education from other parts of the world.

President Kibaki thanked the Aga Khan for demonstrating his faith in people of diverse backgrounds, as evidenced in his involvement in development activities across the world.

The President said it was good for Kenya to have a friend like the Aga Khan.

"There is a lot that Kenyans can learn from His Highness," President Kibaki said.

The Aga Khan described the new academy as "the pioneer institution in what I hope will become, in the next few years, a network of schools of the highest international standards, from primary through higher secondary education in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia."

He said: "It is my hope that through joint ventures and curricular collaboration, they will continually enhance global content, so necessary today, in the standard of education of schools in North America and Europe."

The Aga Khan said one of the factors that led to the decision to start the new network of academies was the state of higher education in the areas where the new schools will be established.

"Probably not more than 15 per cent of graduating students from the secondary schools of our areas will ever go to university. It is to the 85 per cent of the students who currently end their education at secondary school, that the Aga Khan Academies aspire to offer new and significantly better opportunities," said the Aga Khan.

The effective world of the future, he said, is one of pluralism where people understand and accept differences. "But such a world must be based on a new intellectual and spiritual equality and it must be educated to see, in pluralism, opportunities for growth in all areas of human endeavour," the Aga Khan said.

He said Africa and Asia must "function intellectually at the highest international levels" and cultivate a "deeper grasp of the cultures from which they spring".

Among speakers at the ceremony were the minister for Education, Prof George Saitoti, and the Chairman of the Aga Khan Education Services - Kenya, Mr Farid R. Hamir.

The Aga Khan Academy Mombasa began operating on a new 18-acre campus in Mombasa’s Kizingo area in August. It is part of a network of schools called Aga Khan Academies dedicated to an international level of excellence in every facet of education.

The academy offers student-centred teaching on an interactive learning environment. The process is facilitated both inside and outside the classroom and is aided by extensive co-curricular activities or non-core subjects such as music and art. The international network of academies will link students with their counterparts in sub-Saharan African countries, the Indian sub-continent, Central Asia and the Middle East.

Currently, there are 19 academies envisaged or being developed. The Aga Khan academy students pursue a well-balanced education combining intellectual inquiry, academic excellence, sporting and cultural activities and grounding in ethics and moral reasoning.

The academy design was inspired by Swahili architecture. The academy has well-equipped laboratories for general science, physics, biology, chemistry, home science and computers, art and music rooms. Others are a library and resource centre, religion and culture room, career counselling facility, design and technology workshop, student and teacher lounges, theatre and a multi-purpose hall.